Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Women's Studies

First Advisor

Layli Phillips - Chair

Second Advisor

Margaret Mills Harper

Third Advisor

Carol Marsh-Lockett


This thesis investigates the womanist theme of spirituality in Amy Tan’s novel, The Bonesetter’s Daughter. Spirituality unfolds in five linked themes: ghosts, ghostwriting, nature, bones, and memory. In structure, the thesis is composed of four parts. The Introduction proposes spirituality as a womanist way of reading The Bonesetter’s Daughter. Chapter one investigates how the spirit of Gu Liu Xin, the Chinese grandmother, plays a critical role in developing the psychological integrity of Ruth Luyi Young, the American-born Chinese granddaughter. The second chapter examines how Gu Liu Xin’s ghost helps to guide LuLing Liu Young, Liu Xin’s daughter and Ruth’s mother, out of the hazardous situation in China, and how Gu’s spirit sustains LuLing in times of alienation and hardship in America. The thesis concludes that spirituality is essential for a subjugated woman character to achieve her personal and political freedom as well as her physical and spiritual wholeness.